Another wizard film from Harry, but it s not great for muggles

PUBLISHED: 11:38 20 July 2007 | UPDATED: 14:35 07 September 2010

Digital Fusion Image Library TIFF File

Digital Fusion Image Library TIFF File

by Michael Joyce HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (12A) Director David Yates Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon. 138 mins Wizards: Three star r

Another wizard film from Harry, but it's no good for muggles

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (12A)

Director David Yates Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon. 138 mins

Wizards: Three star rating

Muggles: Two star rating

The dumbest thing I've heard recently was the suggestion that JK Rowling fashioned the Potter novels so that they could easily be made into films.

In fact, these increasingly lengthy tomes do film-makers few favours, leaving them with a talky summer blockbuster where the few action sequences are people pointing sticks at each other.

The only thing they have going for them is a ready made worldwide audience. In general, the fan base seems content with these film adaptations and this latest instalment, well handled by English TV director Yates (he made State Of Play), is up to the standard of the previous two.

But if you've never read a Potter book, the Pied Piper appeal of this mythology is an absolute mystery. There must be something enthralling about it as it enfolds over the better part of 1,000 pages. But crammed into two and a bit hours, you get little more than a skeleton service. The production values and star names cast suggest something epic is going on - but there's precious little evidence of it.

On the plus side, Imelda Staunton provides a storming turn as Doloroes Umbridge, a chintzy iron lady clad all in pink, while Radcliffe has really grown into the role. Credit to the production team. Considering they've been exhaustively cranking these out at a rate of almost one a year, they've managed to keep it all relatively fresh.

The problem is that most of their look and style was set by the cold dead mind of Chris Columbus in the first two films, so every film is trapped in his dull literal vision of Hogwarts

- a place peopled by the British theatrical great and good doing their one or two lines in each film. (The Potter cameo is the modern equivalent of the Eric 'n' Ernie Christmas show appearance.)

When the movie eventually escapes Hogwarts for the finale, it briefly soars, pulling off a couple of really dazzling and imaginative sequences.

In three weeks, an Imax version of the film will be released in which these last 20 minutes will be shown in 3D - ironic as they are only part of the film that really doesn't need any enhancement.


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